NABOKV-L post 0012922, Mon, 10 Jul 2006 13:36:01 -0700

Nabokov's ADA and Sololvyov: Query

Just when the whole discussion of how to pronounce "Nabokov" seems to have keeled over on its side, it springs back up again!

I have a question--more of a wondering--concerning Ada. In part I, ch. 35, we encounter:

"What, then, was it that raised the animal act to a level higher than even that

of the most exact arts or the wildest flights of pure science? It

would not be sufficient to say that in his love-making with Ada

he discovered the pang, the ogon', the agony of supreme "real-

ity." Reality, better say, lost the quotes it wore like claws—in

a world where independent and original minds must cling to

things or pull things apart in order to ward off madness or

death (which is the master madness). For one spasm or two,

he was safe. The new naked reality needed no tentacle or an-

chor; it lasted a moment, but could be repeated as often as he

and she were physically able to make love. The color and fire

of that instant reality depended solely on Ada's identity as per-

ceived by him…”

“For the sake of the scholars who will read this forbidden

memoir with a secret tingle (they are human) in the secret

chasms of libraries (where the chatter, the lays and the fannies

of rotting pornographers are piously kept)—its author must add

in the margin of galley proofs which a bedridden old man

heroically corrects (for those slippery long snakes add the last

touch to a writer's woes) a few more [the end of the sentence

cannot be deciphered but fortunately the next paragraph is

scrawled on a separate writing-pad page. Editor's Note].

. . . about the rapture of her identity. The asses who might

really think that in the starlight of eternity, my, Van Veen's,

and her, Ada Veen's, conjunction, somewhere in North Amer-

ica, in the nineteenth century represented but one trillionth of

a trillionth part of a pinpoint planet's significance can bray

ailleurs, ailleurs, ailleurs (the English word would not supply

the onomatopoeic element; old Veen is kind), because the rap-

ture of her identity, placed under the microscope of reality

(which is the only reality), shows a complex system of those

subtle bridges which the senses traverse—laughing, embraced,

throwing flowers in the air—between membrane and brain, and

which always was and is a form of memory, even at the moment

of its perception…”

Now, as we all know, the duplicity of "reality" (clawed and declawed) is a central theme in Nabokov's ouvre; but nowhere else in what I've read of Nabokov have I been struck by how this theme closely parallels that of philososopher Vladimir Solovëv. What strikes me, specifically, is how love, it's physical manifestation and passion (ardour) serve as the catalyst for the realization--even if just a glimpse--of reality in Nabokov; whereas for Solovëv the union of man and woman is what opens a divine wisdom. there are other strata of mystical unions: the union of God and Sophia, heaven and earth... Yet in Ada, heaven seems to be replaced by another earth (earth + earth, or should I say..."Terra") in what seems to me a complementary union.

Would anyone care to comment? A my just connecting random dots? Is Solovëv too Berdyaevesque for Nabokovian musings?

-Paco, Puerto Rico

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